Pelotons, Puzzles and OSHA Whistleblower Resolutions
What do they have in common?
Whistleblower complaints made to OSHA are on the rise. This per an August audit report released by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Labor. According to the report, from February 1st-May 31st OSHA received 4,101 whistleblower complaints; an increase of 30% from the same time period the prior year. 1,618 (or 39%) of these complaints were for COVID-19 related issues such as social distancing and PPE requirements.
During the same time period, FTEs at OSHA’s Whistleblower Program decreased from 126 in 2019 to 120 in 2020. So, not only is OSHA dealing with an increase in complaints, they’re also dealing with this increase with less help.
Naturally, the widening gap between complaints and work force has created significant delays. In a 2015 audit, OIG found it took an average of 238 days to close an investigation. That number has now swelled to 279 days.
StraightforWARD Legal Advice:
Suffice it to say, OSHA’s Whistleblower Program is overwhelmed at the moment. But delayed complaints will still be resolved. Employers should take note of increasing complaints and take steps to mitigate risk by:
- Following CDC, OSHA, and local guidance
- Creating an atmosphere that is open to complaints
- Revising anti-retaliation policies
- Examining any adverse action taken against employees